Though Ron Oswanski is one of the most prodigious Hammond B3 players on a jazz scene rife with rising organ talent, he’s just starting to introduce himself as a force in his own right. Also an accomplished accordion player, Oswanski has forged a lithe, lyrical and rhythmically charged contemporary sound steeped in the B3’s earthy roots but informed by post-bop developments. With his finely calibrated sense of dynamics and expansive harmonic palette, he can burn with the best of them, and then slow things down for an exquisitely crafted ballad. He showcases his multifaceted sensibility on his stellar CD December’s Moon, a revelatory debut album featuring heavyweights such as guitarist John Abercrombie, bassist John Patitucci, drummer Clarence Penn, and saxophonist Tim Ries, who produced the project. The CD will be released March 19, 2013 on Palmetto Records.
“I’m not a traditional Jimmy Smith style organ player,” Oswanski says. “I do play that style, but I’m a big ECM fan who’s listened to a lot of Keith Jarrett and Jan Garbarek. I like open harmonies, and being able to stretch harmonies here and there. In my music subtlety and beautiful melodies are as important as aggressiveness.”
Ranging from Led Zeppelin and Kenny Wheeler, December’s Moon gives a good sense of Oswanski’s scope. Abercrombie, who helped expand the textural Ron Oswanski - Hammond B3P
Ron Oswanski – Hammond Artist @ the Hammond B3P
possibilities of B-3 ensembles with his own ECM organ trio sessions, sets the tone on about half the tracks, applying his liquid tone to Oswanski’s impressive original tunes. The other half of the album is defined by the combustible rhythm section connection between Penn and Patitucci (on both electric and acoustic bass), including a seductive post-bop polka that hearkens back to Oswanski’s roots. Ries, equally effective on soprano and tenor sax, contributes memorably to the first 10 tracks, sitting out only for a captivating trio version of Kenny Wheeler’s “Kayak” with Abercrombie and drummer Ian Froman, and the startlingly beautiful closer, Fred Hersch’s loving evocation of Bill Evans “Evanessence,” by Patitucci, Penn and Oswanski on piano.
Oswanski has been keeping company with formidable musicians for more than two decades. Since entering the jazz big leagues in the early 1990s as a teenager recruited by Maynard Ferguson’s Big Bop Nouveau Band, he’s collaborated with some of jazz’s most creative figures, performing with the Maria Schneider Orchestra, Tim Ries and The Rolling Stones Project, Jack Wilkins and Mike Clark, Milt Hinton, Myron Walden’s Countryfied, Dave Berger and the Sultans of Swing, as well as popular music icons The Temptations, Aretha Franklin and Blood, Sweat and Tears. Vibraphone master Dave Samuels, the driving force behind the Grammy Award-winning Caribbean Jazz Project, launched the Organik Vibe Trio several years ago as a vehicle for collaborating with Oswanski, leading to the enthralling 2010 session Moscow. He also plays widely with Israeli guitarist Oz Noy’s trio with drummer Nate Smith, the Dan Willis Band with percussionist John Hollenbeck, guitarist Sheryl Bailey’s Trio, and Carl Fischer’s (Billy Joel) Groove Project.